‘I just want to make films’ says freed director Oleg Sentsov

Oleg Sentsov

The Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov has landed in Kyiv after a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia. Last week was much rumoured, but not confirmed, after he had been moved from a penal colony in the north of Russia to a jail in Moscow. Sentsov was arrested in 2014 in Crimea on suspicion of ‘plotting terrorist acts’ but has been the centre of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine over a potential prisoner swap. Ukraine's recently inaugurated president Volodymyr Zelensky had indicated he would be willing to hand over Kirill Vyshinsky, Kyiv editor of the Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency, who was given bail last week, having been accused of supporting pro-Russian separatists.

Sentsov won acclaim for his 2011 feature Gamer, which tells the story of a computer games-addicted teenager. He has been serving his twenty-year sentence in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, which is located above the Arctic Circle. In May 2018 he went on hunger strike to protest what he says was a politically-motivated arrest and trial.

At a press conference held on Tuesday Sentsov said he has no intention of entering politics, he just wants to "make films and live”.

Published: 2 October 2019
Updated: 10 September 2019